Everton's glorious road to Wembley

By Kirsty McHale, Chief Sports Writer

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Everton Wembley Way

Everton's long and winding road to Wembley; All the goals from an epic cup run courtesy of Youtube

THIRD ROUND: Macclesfield 0 – 1 Everton

Everton’s FA Cup campaign began on a cold January afternoon at Macclesfield.

A stunning half volley in the first half from Leon Osman was enough to secure the Blues’ place in the fourth round, in a scrappy affair against the League Two outfit.

Incredibly, it was the first time the club had progressed past the third round of the competition since 2006, having fallen at the first hurdle to Blackburn and Oldham in the previous two seasons.

Though Everton looked edgy at times at the Moss Rose Ground, it was a tie that they never looked like losing.

Indeed, the winning margin could have been greater, but a host of second half chances were squandered by the Blues, including two opportunities for Phil Jagielka.

Simon Yeo had Everton nerves frayed as he forced an excellent save from Tim Howard in the game’s final moments. But the Blues held out and earned themselves a fourth round tie with their friends from the other side of Stanley Park.

 

FOURTH ROUND: Liverpool 1 – 1 Everton * Everton 1 – 0 Liverpool (aet)

Thanks to a wonderful goal deep into extra time, and an

impromptu ITV ad break, a 19-year-old from Devon

became a temporary household name.

The fourth round replay between Everton and their bitter

rivals Liverpool was heading for penalties after 117

goal-less minutes. Then up stepped Dan Gosling.

The youngster dummied three Liverpool defenders just

outside the six yard box, and curled the ball past Pepe

Reina with all the composure of a seasoned professional.

Everton brought their neighbours back to Goodison Park

after the original tie at Anfield ended all square, with

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard cancelling out Joleon

Lescott’s early header.

And it was their skipper who limped off after fifteen

minutes of the replay. It was all downhill from then on for

the visitors.

Lucas Leiva was sent off in the 75th minute, and a disciplined Everton performance was rewarded in the final minutes... with millions of ITV viewers enjoying a Tic Tac advertisement instead.

 

FIFTH ROUND: Everton 3 – 1 Aston Villa

A potentially tricky home tie against Premiership rivals Aston Villa turned out to be a pretty comfortable passage into the quarter finals.

Everton took the lead after just four minutes through teenager Jack Rodwell. The youngster netted his first senior goal for the club as he slotted home a rebounded Tim Cahill header.

James Milner equalised five minutes later for Villa from the spot after Tony Hibbert brought down Gabriel Agbonlahor in the box.

But the Blues soon retook the lead with a penalty of their own. Victor Anichebe was fouled by Steve Sidwell, and Mikel Arteta calmly converted the spot kick.

It was all Everton from then, and Cahill’s second half strike sealed the win, and a place in the next round, for the Blues.

 

SIXTH ROUND: Everton 2 – 1 Middlesbrough

The fifth round may have been a walk in the park for Everton, but the sixth round was anything but.

Indeed, the Blues’ Wembley dreams look dead in the water at half time, as the home side trailed to a David Wheater header just before the interval.

It was a dire 45 minutes from the home side, and the players were given a rollicking from assistant manager Steve Round when they made it back to the dressing room.

It was the kick start Everton needed, and with the introduction of Louis Saha after half time, the game was turned on its head.

Marouane Fellaini equalised four minutes into the second half, and super sub Saha fired the Blues ahead six minutes later. Everton were going to Wembley.

 

SEMI FINAL: Manchester United 0 – 0 Everton (Everton win 4 – 2 on penalties)

Just as they had done in 1995, Everton went into an FA Cup encounter with Manchester United at Wembley as the underdogs.

And just as they had done in 1995, the underdogs came out on top... eventually.

All of the talk pre-match was of Manchester United’s merciless quest for an unprecedented quintuple. With the Carling Cup already under their belts, the champions of England and Europe were looking to add an FA Cup to their bursting trophy cabinet.

All that stood between them and the final was Everton. An Everton side ravaged with injury, but an Everton side that refuses to lie down and give up.

Despite Sir Alex Ferguson fielding a weakened United side, it was a tight contest with few chances. Tim Cahill and James Vaughan came close for Everton, while United felt they should’ve had a penalty when Phil Jagielka looked to have fouled Danny Wellbeck in the box.

And so, after 120 minutes and no goals, the tie would be decided on penalties.

Everton’s record in penalty shoot-outs in the recent past has been nothing short of abysmal. And keeper Tim Howard had not saved a single penalty during his short Everton career.

The odds were stacked against the Blues. And those odds became even longer when their first penalty was blazed over the bar by Tim Cahill.

The Aussie midfielder dropped to his knees, head in his hands. His pain was there for all to see.

But one of the stars of Everton’s season was about to be let off the hook, as Dimitar Berbatov stepped forward to take what can only be described as a shocking penalty. Lazy run-up, poor strike. Howard nearly dived past it, it was so bad.

Leighton Baines smashed his penalty home, then Howard pulled off his second save in a row to keep United captain Rio Ferdinand out.

All of a sudden, the tie had swung into Everton’s favour. Phil Neville and Vaughan both scored their spot kicks, as did Nemanja Vidic and Anderson for United.

Then it was down to Jagielka. Everton’s player of the season. The man who missed in the UEFA Cup shoot-out defeat to Fiorentina last season. The pressure on his shoulders was enormous. Did it get the better of him?

Did it heck.

 

Pictures courtesy of Flikr.com

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